The Cincinnati Benglas will once again be part of three primetime games. The difference in 2014 is that tow of the three games will be at home, whereas in 2013, Paul Brown Stadium hosted just one primetime game.
That was a Monday night Football matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and PBS will have another MNF game this year. Week 16 will see Peyton Manning and his AFC-champion Denver Broncos come to Cincinnati in a game that will pit two division-winners from '13, and both are the early favorites to win their divisions again in '14.
It won't be easy for the Bengals who have a putrid 8-19 all-time record vs. Denver, the third-worst winning-percentage (29.6%) against any NFL team.
It comes at a pivotal point in the season. Week 16 was when the Bengals clinched the AFC North in '13 after handling the Minnesota Vikings.. The Broncos also clinched the AFC West in Week 16 wit a win over Houston Texans.
The Texans and Vikings were both cupcakes at that point in the year, but that won't be the case this time. Both the Bengals and Broncos will have a fight on their hands to inch closer to their ultimate goal: Home field advantage in the playoffs and an easier road to the Super Bowl.
Hosting the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football in Week 10 won't be nearly as daunting of a task. Cincinnati has won five-straight at home over their Ohio rivals. There's also a good chance the Browns will have a rookie quarterback at the helm in perhaps his first primetime affair.
The Bengals also sport a 43-38 record against the Browns, and that's the most wins Cincinnati has against any NFL team.
Their only road primetime game will be in Foxborough in Week 5 against the New England Patriots, whom Cincy has 9-14 all-time record against. Making matters worse is that the Bengals have just one road-win in primetime in the past 19 seasons. They lost both of their road primetime games in 2013 against the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Bengals did score their first win against Tom Brady (as a starting QB) last year, so it won't be an insurmountable task for them to come out of New England with a win.
These may not be the only primetime Bengals games though. During Weeks 5-10 of the regular season, the NFL may choose to flex two games (league-wide total for the six-week period) from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night.
During Weeks 11-17, all Sunday games are subject to possible flex among the three standard kickoff times -- early afternoon, late afternoon and night.
The Bengals haven't been flexed into primetime since the 2009-10 season, when the playoff-bound Bengals took a whooping on the road at the hands of the New York Jets, who clinched a playoff-berth with the win.